Wintersmiths Ice Baller ($85)
If your dad is a fan of bourbon, scotch, or any other spirit that’s best enjoyed on the rocks, he needs an ice baller. But not just any ice baller — he needs the best damn ice baller there is. As far as we can tell, the Wintersmiths Ice Baller is the only ice ball maker that produces perfectly round, completely transparent ice spheres. It achieves this by freezing the ball directionally, from bottom to top, with the help of a cleverly-designed silicon insert. The result is a flawless ball of ice that melts more slowly than a set of small cubes, and also dilutes your drinks to a lesser extent. The last couple balls we made with this contraption lasted us well over six hours, so no matter what your dad’s booze of choice is, we’re fairly certain he’ll love this thing.
In our opinion, there’s nothing that says “thanks for being awesome, Dad” quite like a big batch of legal explosives. If your old man is a gun enthusiast, hunter, or just a big fan of Michael Bay films, there’s a good chance he’ll go bonkers for Tannerite. This stuff is a completely legal, completely stable binary explosive that will only detonate if it’s hit by a high-velocity bullet. It’s composed of a mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, and is primarily used for target shooting. It’s also ridiculously fun to detonate. Never again will dad be forced to squint downrange or fumble with binoculars to determine if he hit his target — when he nails one of these things, everyone within a half mile radius will know. You can make it yourself if you want, but it’s much easier to order it from the official Tannerite store; that way you don’t have to worry about getting the recipe right. It’s also worth noting that Tannerite is only legal to possess and transport when it’s unmixed, so as long as dad mixes it on site and uses it right away, there will be no need to bail him out of jail for felony possession of explosives …again.
Don’t let dad dish out big bucks on a professional golf swing instructor — get him one of these swing analyzers from Zepp. These little bricks attach to dad’s glove, and then use an array of accelerometers to detect the motion of his swing. The data recorded while he plays is then beamed to his smartphone, tablet, or laptop in real time — allowing him to see the shape of his swing in incredible detail. Armed with this knowledge, he can make small adjustments to improve his game without dishing out 50 bucks an hour to get pointers from a washed-up instructor who used to caddy for Vijay Singh. We tested this thing out back when it was in the first generation, and we were pretty impressed with how accurate it was. Generation two is supposed to be even better, and as an added bonus, the new sensors can be sued to track dad’s tennis or baseball swings, so if your old man is a sporting fellow, one of these little gizmos would surely serve him well.
Deeper Fish Finder ($227)
Generally speaking, sonar-based fish finders are almost exclusively found on boats, so if your dad doesn’t have a boat to affix one to, he’s out of luck. Unless of course, you get him Deeper. Deeper offers a solution to this dilemma. If your dad loves to fish, but doesn’t have a boat to do it from, this is exactly what he needs. Rather than being mounted on the bottom of a boat and accessed via a crummy dash-mounted LCD display, Deeper is a portable, wireless, and completely buoyant sonar ball that dad can use anywhere. He can toss it off the dock, hang it off the edge of his kayak, or just chuck it into the hole he dug in the ice. Once it’s in the water, it’ll beam all the sonar information it collects directly to dad’s smartphone or tablet, allowing him to see exactly where all those elusive guppies are hiding. That being said, however, you might also want to consider a waterproof phone case if your old man has butter fingers. Deeper can survive a plunge in to the lake, but dad’s iPhone 5S probably can’t.
BBQ Dragon ($50)
As your dad will no doubt tell you, charcoal grills are superior to their gas counterparts when it comes to even heat and great flavor. But they also have a few drawbacks — namely the time and effort required to cook with them. Gas grills start right up and are ready to cook on in just a few minutes, but charcoal briquettes typically take a bit more time and attention to prepare properly. If your dad is a diehard charcoal guy, we suggest you make his life a little bit easier with BBQ Dragon. It’s essentially battery-powered, heat-resistant fan that he can clip to the edge of the grill. Once it’s there, it’ll blast the charcoal with a stream of oxygen, helping it reach cooking temperature in a fraction of the time it would take otherwise. There are a few other contraptions out there that serve the same purpose, but we think dad will like this one because it’s got a more laid back, set-it-and-forget-it style of use.
Kwikset SmartCode Deadbolt ($98-$199)
If dad’s memory isn’t what it used to be and that “steel trap” that he keeps talking about is really more of a sieve these days, check out this lock from Kwikset. Install one of these badboys, and dad won’t have to remember where the hell he put his keys ever again — he can just punch in a four-digit code and gain entry whenever he needs to. Hell, even if his mind is a steel trap, this lock is still pretty awesome. In addition to being uber-convenient, the deluxe version ($199) is also equipeed with Kwikset’s HomeConnect technology, so it can link up to all kinds of other smart home gizmos. Think dad would like it if the lights, speakers, or TV could automatically blink to life when he unlocks the door? It’s totally possible with HomeConnect. No matter how you look at this thing, it’s sure to be a hit. It appeals to dad’s geeky, gadget-loving side, while also keeping his family safe and his kingdom secure.
Automatic OBD2 Dongle ($100)
If you’ve got that dad that loves his car almost as much as he loves you, get him Automatic Link. It’s like a FitBit for his car — but he doesn’t have to be even the least bit tech-savvy to use it. To get started, all he’s got to do is plug it into his baby’s onboard diagnostic (OBD2) port and sync it with the accompanying Automatic mobile app. Once that’s done, he’ll be able to get real-time stats on things like miles driven, time driven, average fuel costs, fuel economy, and much more. It’ll also give him alerts when he does things that lead to inefficient driving, such as accelerating or decelerating too fast. And should his ‘check engine’ light ever flick on, he can check the reason why it happened, and even clear the warning himself instead of taking it to a shop. So not only will this gizmo help dad keep his car in ship shape, but it’ll also allow him to geek out on the inner workings like never before.
Laser-Guided Beard Trimmer ($100)
You might not realize it, but that perfectly-trimmed beard that Dad has been rocking for the past couple months isn’t easy to maintain. Chances are pretty good that he spends an inordinate amount of time taming all that face-fur every morning, so this year, why not make his life a little easier? The Philips Norelco Laser-Guided Beard Trimmer will help him trim up with more speed and precision than ever before. Features include 17 different length settings, a dual-sided trimmer offering both wide and narrow ends, self-sharpening blades, a battery that can run for up to an hour on a single charge, and, of course, a Class 1 laser that projects perfectly-straight lines onto dad’s face, making for foolproof facial hair trimming.
T-Fal Optigrill ($180)
The Optigrill is basically a George Foreman grill on steroids. It’s a lean, mean, sensor-studded smart grilling machine, and your Dad will absolutely love it. It works exactly like that busted old George Foreman he’s been using for the past decade, but also comes with a number of temperature sensors that detect his food’s doneness and adapt the cooking cycle according to thickness and number of parts. In addition to manual controls, the OptiGrill sports six automatic cooking programs (burger, chicken, bacon, sausage, red meat, and fish) and an LED cooking meter that lets dad check up on the cooking process without even opening the grill. It can even cook a frozen steak to perfection with a single button press, so he wont even have to think ahead and defrost the meat. It’s definitely a bit more expensive than your average grill press, but in our experience the additional smart features are well worth the extra cost.